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Be sure to scroll down the page today

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There are TWO posts today...Sorry about that :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Is it over already? Saying good bye to Armchair BEA 2011

It's Sunday and although Armchair BEA ended on Friday, I figured better late than never for my wrap-up post.  This post was supposed to be done on Friday, but hey rules are made to be broken.
So from the Armchair BEA site here is the concept for the post:

As you relax by the pool or have fun with your families this weekend, we ask that you take some time to write out a short recap of the week. What did it mean to you to participate in Armchair BEA 2011? What were your highlights? Would you do it again? Show your love for this week one last time and let us know what, if anything, you learned and enjoyed most!

I was only able to participate with posts on two days, but I really enjoyed myself.  Both posts made think about myself and what I have read so far in 2011.  Retrospection and analysis is always good!

I missed the deadline to sign up for an interview partner, so next year I will have to mark my calender with the deadline.  Instead I read interviews around blogland that many of my fellow bloggers posted.  I sometimes think I'll never discover new blogs, but then events like this remind me there are so many other blogs out there just waiting to be read.  While that can be daunting, I decided to pick a few here and there to stick with throughout the year.  I like discovery.  It's good to expand my little corner of the web.

As much as I would like to attend BEA in NY, just reading about all of the new books coming out made my eyes spin.  So I will be more than happy to participate in Armchair BEA again next year.  Hopefully I will see you there too!  

For more wrap-up posts, stop by here.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review: The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

Publisher: Penguin (Plume)
Genre: fiction
Paperback, 293 pages
Book Source: the author
My Rating: 95/100

From the Penguin:

A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.
In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

My Thoughts:

This was an adorable read, and quite the page turner.  When we meet Emily she is not in a good place emotionally.  Her husband is a butt head, she feels she has failed at life, and she is down in the dumps.  But once she goes to Bainbridge Island to visit her dear aunt Bee, Emily turns a corner.

She reconnects with a teenage fling, meets a new guy, and although she is nervous being newly single and all, she handles herself well.  Her aunt Bee is awesome and supportive.  Bee is like the mom Emily never really had.  Emily has a mom but their relationship has never been great.  Hmm why is that?

During her visit, Emily discovers a diary revealing a story that is both heartbreaking and mysterious.  Emily decides to  figure out who the writer is, and if it ties in with why Bee and her friend Evelyn are evasive about the past.  This mysterious woman has something to do with Emily's own history, but it is not until the end that all is revealed. 

Most of the story takes place on Bainbridge Island, and let me just say that I have to visit this place someday.  The way Emily feels when she is there; the absolute calmness and serenity that permeates her; that Emily belongs there, I can totally relate to.  This aspect also appealed to me greatly.

I loved this book!  It was a page turner that kept me guessing for many reasons: who is the woman, what are the circumstances of these events, will Emily find love.  Granted, the finding of a diary with a mystery attached may be a bit cliche, but I could have cared less.  Jio made me care about these characters and what happened in the past.  Plus I was highly entertained along the way.  I could have finished this book in a weekend but I chose to drag it out and savor it.  You will find love, joy, and heartbreak in this story.  It makes you think about things too, or that could be just me.  Either way if Sarah Jio pens another novel, you can be sure that I will read it with out hesitation. 

Here is the author's website:

And the book trailer for your viewing pleasure:

Thanks again to the author for sending me a copy of her book.

2011 Challenges Met: Mystery & Suspense, HF, Take a Chance, Reading Resolutions

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Best book for first half of 2011

Today’s Armchair BEA suggested posting topic is “Best of 2011!”

We'd love to have you share some of your favorite books so far this year, and/or the the books being promoted at BEA that you hope will end up among your favorites for the year!

As for books I have read so far in 2011, unfortunately three of them I am in the process of writing the review:

What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris              This was a page turner and made my heart speed up.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro           Not my usual reading fare, but apparently affected more deeply than I realized.  I think about this book quite often.

           Proud Cis, the Rose of Raby, finally gets her story told, and it is terrific!

Book I have read and reviewed in 2011:

When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt
           Sweet innocent Irma and the Italian immigrant experience.  For Irma it worked out; for others, not so much.

As for what is coming out in 2011 that I am excited about?
I started to peruse the catalogs, but it is so much information that I feel overwhelmed.  I'll just wait and check out all the surprises through the year.

Check here for more posts by Armchair BEA participants.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Today's theme post for Armchair BEA: Who am I and how do I Armchair?

Who are you, and how do you Armchair?

Introduce yourself in a post.  If you specialize in a particular genre, share what it is and why you love it. Also, tell us how you’re doing Armchair BEA - where you are, what you’re excited about, what you hope will happen this week.

I am Jenny, aka Jenny Girl, and I live in Philadelphia, PA.  I am in my late 30s, just recently, am married for quite some time, and I adore books!  I have enjoyed reading since a very early age, and except for when work gets in the way, I am always reading a book.  I have a broad range of reading interests, including classics, and only dabble in YA.  I have had enough of vampires, and am interested in middle grade fiction too, although I am very selective.

I read and review books for a few publishers and I strive to be very selective, because otherwise I will never get to the pile of books I own, or those I would like to read from my TBR.  I also enjoy using the library, and think borrowing books fills my need to buy books.  I hate when I buy a book that is over hyped and it completely sucks!  I love books that transport me to another time or place; that make me forget to go to sleep or get off the train at the next stop.  Books are entertainment and work out my imagination.

My other interests that compete with reading are TV and knitting.  With respect to TV, I love sci-fi and most of the shows you find on cable channels, like AMC, TNT, FX, etc.  The major networks have very few shows that interest me, except for Fringe on Fox.  Also, I am down to two reality shows: Survivor and Amazing Race.  As for knitting, I am always working on something, and have made sweaters, shawls, socks, mittens, etc.  I usually knit while I watch TV.  Sometimes I blog about the shows I watch, but try to reserve that for shows I think may not get enough press.

I have Twitter and Facebook sign ons, but I can't even remember the last time I was on there.  I am not "wired" into social networking, and do not see the need to constantly check something, or chat or text.  There is more to life than my cell phone.  I do however, like to blog and discuss books I have read, or chat about topics that are current with respect to books or current events.  I like chatting about random things too, but I'm not very good at random posts, like other bloggers out there.  Some bloggers just have that knack for coming up with great topics or insights on issues. 

Well that's a little slice of me.  As for the Armchair BEA, I didn't participate last year, so I'm curious to see what this is all about.  Besides meeting new bloggers, I like discovering or learning about new things.  Expanding my horizons and change or consider the way I think.  It's all good!

So that's all from me for now.  Thank you for stopping by and feel free to leave me a link to your intro post.  It's always nice to meet someone new or rediscover someone you haven't seen in a while :)

To meet other Armchair BEA participants, check here.

Thanks for stopping by and nice to meet you!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Review: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Mystery/suspense, HF
Hardback 320 pages
Book Source: the library
My Rating: 85/100
Recommended by: Julie from Booking Mama

From the author's website:

Maisie Dobbs, Psychologist and Investigator, began her working life at the age of thirteen as a servant in a Belgravia mansion, only to be discovered reading in the library by her employer, Lady Rowan Compton. Fearing dismissal, Maisie is shocked when she discovers that her thirst for education is to be supported by Lady Rowan and a family friend, Dr. Maurice Blanche. But The Great War intervenes in Maisie's plans, and soon after commencement of her studies at Girton College, Cambridge, Maisie enlists for nursing service overseas.

Years later, in 1929, having apprenticed to the renowned Maurice Blanche, a man revered for his work with Scotland Yard, Maisie sets up her own business. Her first assignment, a seemingly tedious inquiry involving a case of suspected infidelity, takes her not only on the trail of a killer, but back to the war she had tried so hard to forget.

My Thoughts:

The story starts out in present day, after WW I, and Maisie Dobbs is setting up her business.  She takes on the case of following a woman to ascertain if she is cheating on her husband.   Maisie likes to quote or remember to herself, many of the anecdotes that Maurice has taught her, about listening to people and communication them.  Maisie also "inclines her head" to get the other party to continue talking quite often.  Trivial but these two things worked my nerves.  I didn't like Maisie.  There was something about her, and I was starting to not care what happened.  Then the story shifted to the past, more specifically Maisie's past.

Maisie's childhood, how she met Lady Rowan and Maurice, and her participation in WW I are explained.  Maisie is a very intelligent and determined young lady.  She has had a tough road, and suffered great heartache as a result of the war.  This Maisie I liked.  This was someone I could sit and have tea with.

The story then switches back to present day, WW I, and Maisie delves further into something she discovered when working the previous case.  This part of the story was interesting and a bit heart breaking, but again the Maisie I wasn't crazy about returned, and I had to struggle through to finish. 

Therefore, I am of two minds on this one.  The one Maisie I liked, the other I did not.  As far as the historical fiction, mystery and suspense elements go, Winspear does a lovely job.  The WW I time period has many stories just waiting to be told, and this one barely scratched the surface.  The mystery of the "farm" was solved, and I am curious if these types of places really existed.  I could totally see why they would, and what a shame.  It never ceases to amaze me what our earlier generations dealt with.

For more information, please visit the author's webite:

2011 Challenges Met: Mystery & Suspense, HF

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review: Alice in Zombieland by Nikolas Cook

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Humor
Trade 256 pages
Book Source: Sourcebooks
My Rating: 87/100

From Sourcebooks:

Esteemed author Nickolas Cook gives new life, or rather takes it away, in his version of Alice in Alice in Zombieland. When Alice follows the Black Rat down an open grave, she falls and falls into a world full of the undead, rotting flesh, and characters beyond her imagination. But there’s something troubling Alice. Her skin is rotting and her hair is falling out, and she has the haunting feeling that is she remains in Zombieland any longer, she might never leave. Can Alice escape Zombieland, and stay out of the Dead Red Queen’s clutches along the way?

Three Reasons Review:

1.) Reasons you chose this book

I was offered this book for review by Beena from Sourcebooks.  I didn't like the original story last year when I read it, but I though I would give it another go since it was a different take.

2.) Reasons you liked or disliked this book

I liked this book because of it's incorporation of the zombies and all things dead aspect.  I thought the dead, dark, and smelly aspects or changes were well placed, and this story does lend itself to being changed.  Look, when you follow a black rat into an open grave in a graveyard, how could you not strike your head and possible lethally injure yourself?  My problem was that the original story of Alice is still a no go for me.  Alice just annoys me in the written form.  Loved the movies, dislike the written version.

3.) Reasons you are recommending this book

I would still recommend this book.  If you would like to read a different take of the original, are digging all of these classics being rewritten with zombies and creatures of the night, or just want to see Alice get what she deserves (possibly), then this is the story for you.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for my review copy.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Armchair BEA 2011

The Book Expo America (BEA) and Book Bloggers Convention is scheduled for May 23-27 in New York city.  For those of us unable to attend there is the opportunity to participate in the Armchair BEA, hosted by the awesome people over at the Armchair BEA blog.

They did this last year and I could not participate, however this year I am going to try my darndest to do some posts or something.  They also have an interviewing thing, whihc may still be open for sign ups, but if not there is a list of participants here.  At least this way we can float around and read about new to us bloggers and get to know them. 

So if you have some free time, be sure to check out the Armchair BEA this year :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I'm back, it's my Birthday, and boy have I missed you all!!!

Getting ready to land at Kona International Airport

Hello everybody!  How are you?  I hope this finds you all well.  The end of April brought the completion of the two classes I was teaching, and then off I went on my vacation.  Two weeks in Hawaii, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Just me and my honey, with the lovely people and Aloha spirit of the Big Island.  I vowed to bring the Aloha spirit back with me and maintain it, and damn it I am going to do it this time!  I will not let things get me down and I will just go with the flow.

I did some reading and knitting while I was away, and got a bit of a tan too.  Not too much because we had some rainy weather; very unlike Hawaii but such is life.  We did some driving around, checking out neighborhoods and such, and are confident that someday we will be able to move there.  That's the plan anyway, eventually.  We also checked out an unmarked beach, and it was the best discovery we made.  If I told you the specifics I would have to kill you, so here is just a picture:

Now that I am back, I find I am super behind on my reviews and blog reading, but everything will be completed in due course.  I must admit I almost wanted to blow up my Gmail account, but I have whittled it down a bit.  What did we humans do before email and the Internet?  Well, that means I would not have met you good people, so there's the upside.

So that brings me to my birthday.  Today I turn 38 and must admit I certainly don't feel like it.  I can't believe that's my age.  It's weird.  The only thing I have noticed is my attitude towards things, people, and life in general has changed.  I know that's a combination of life experience, events, and such, but really, I think I get closer to knowing my true self, wants, and desires everyday.  Be who you are, for yourself, and nobody else. 

No big gifts for my birthday, although I did get a little something while on vacation.  I'll save that for another post.  So what have you been up to lately?  Read anything good that I should add to the old TBR?

Glad to be back and look forward to visitng you all.  Take care and happy reading :)
Enjoy your week!